Providence Mayor Elorza signs order establishing process toward reparations for city’s Black and Indigenous residents

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE)– Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an executive order today that will explore the process of reparations for the city’s Black and Indigenous residents.

Calling the order “a process of truth, reconciliation and municipal reparations for Black, Indigenous People, and People of Color in Providence,” in a statement, Elorza outlined that process in three steps.

First, the city will look in to the history of slavery and genocide against Native Americans in Providence and Rhode Island. This portion of the endeavor would be a commitment to understanding “the Truth”, according to the statement.

Next would come the process of “Reconciliation”, an effort “with the aim of appreciating the resiliency of the Black, Indigenous People and People of Color in Providence and to better understand the ways these injustices continue to impact residents today,” the statement said.

The third step would explore the process of “Reparations”, where the city would seek to “reverse the injuries resulting from the Truth findings and advise what appropriate policies, programs, and projects” should be undertaken, Elorza said in the statement. This may also include adjustments to current laws and policies that impact Black and other minority groups in the city.

Speaking at a signing ceremony at the Dexter Training Grounds on the city’s West End, Elorza said many would focus on the third step of the order.

“A lot of folks are going to jump straight to the reparations question,” Elorza said. “How much? What form? For how long? Whose eligible? Those are all legitimate questions, but they’re questions for another day.”

Elorza said the immediate focus should be on the first portion of the order.

“The first step is the truth–telling” Elorza said. “The second is reconciliation. That sets the table, then we can ask, ‘What are we going to do about that?’, and that’s where the reparations part comes in.”

The mayor was joined at the ceremony by members of the city council and community groups.

Historian and vice president of the 1696 Heritage Group, Keith Stokes, said the process would place Providence in a unique place in the country.

“Providence can lead the nation on how we present the inclusive history of all Americans through public memorials, public investments and public education,” Stokes said. “The truth-telling that begins today through the mayor’s vision will not only validate our earned African heritage and history in Providence, but also that as Black Lives Matter and Black History Matter does too.”

©WLNE-TV/ABC 6 2020

Categories: News